Following plenty of speculation, Apple has finally lifted the veil on its in-house, ARM-based system on a chip (SoC) that will power its next generation of Mac products: the M1.
According to Apple, the M1 SoC (8 core, 5 nm) boasts not only the world’s best CPU performance per watt, but the world’s fastest integrated graphics as well. The chip is said to deliver twice the performance of a typical mobile CPU at 25 percent of the power, while its GPU can provide up to 2.6 teraflops of throughput.
A new MacBook Air ($999), 13-inch MacBook Pro ($1,299), and Mac mini ($699) are the first products to be blessed with the M1 SoC. Users can expect up to 3.5x faster CPU performance, up to 6x faster GPU performance, up to 15x faster machine learning performance, and battery life up to 2x longer than before.
Original Press Release
Apple today announced M1, the most powerful chip it has ever created and the first chip designed specifically for the Mac. M1 is optimized for Mac systems in which small size and power efficiency are critically important. As a system on a chip (SoC), M1 combines numerous powerful technologies into a single chip, and features a unified memory architecture for dramatically improved performance and efficiency. M1 is the first personal computer chip built using cutting-edge 5-nanometer process technology and is packed with an astounding 16 billion transistors, the most Apple has ever put into a chip. It features the world’s fastest CPU core in low-power silicon, the world’s best CPU performance per watt, the world’s fastest integrated graphics in a personal computer, and breakthrough machine learning performance with the Apple Neural Engine. As a result, M1 delivers up to 3.5x faster CPU performance, up to 6x faster GPU performance, and up to 15x faster machine learning, all while enabling battery life up to 2x longer than previous-generation Macs. With its profound increase in performance and efficiency, M1 delivers the biggest leap ever for the Mac.
“There has never been a chip like M1, our breakthrough SoC for the Mac. It builds on more than a decade of designing industry-leading chips for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch, and ushers in a whole new era for the Mac,” said Johny Srouji, Apple’s senior vice president of Hardware Technologies. “When it comes to low-power silicon, M1 has the world’s fastest CPU core, the world’s fastest integrated graphics in a personal computer, and the amazing machine learning performance of the Apple Neural Engine. With its unique combination of remarkable performance, powerful features, and incredible efficiency, M1 is by far the best chip we’ve ever created.”
First System on a Chip for the Mac
Macs and PCs have traditionally used multiple chips for the CPU, I/O, security, and more. Now with M1, these technologies are combined into a single SoC, delivering a whole new level of integration for greater performance and power efficiency. M1 also features a unified memory architecture that brings together high-bandwidth, low-latency memory into a single pool within a custom package. This allows all of the technologies in the SoC to access the same data without copying it between multiple pools of memory, further improving performance and efficiency.
The World’s Best CPU Performance per Watt
M1 features an 8-core CPU consisting of four high-performance cores and four high-efficiency cores. Each of the high-performance cores provides industry-leading performance for single-threaded tasks, while running as efficiently as possible. They are the world’s fastest CPU cores in low-power silicon, allowing photographers to edit high-resolution photos with lightning speed and developers to build apps nearly 3x faster than before. And all four can be used together for a huge boost in multithreaded performance.
The four high-efficiency cores deliver outstanding performance at a tenth of the power. By themselves, these four cores deliver similar performance as the current-generation, dual-core MacBook Air at much lower power. They are the most efficient way to run lightweight, everyday tasks like checking email or browsing the web, and preserve battery life like never before. And all eight cores can work together to provide incredible compute power for the most demanding tasks and deliver the world’s best CPU performance per watt.
The World’s Fastest Integrated Graphics
M1 includes Apple’s most advanced GPU. It benefits from years of analysis of Mac applications, including everyday apps and challenging pro workloads. With industry-leading performance and incredible efficiency, the GPU in M1 is in a class by itself. Featuring up to eight powerful cores capable of running nearly 25,000 threads simultaneously, the GPU can handle extremely demanding tasks with ease, from smooth playback of multiple 4K video streams to rendering complex 3D scenes. With 2.6 teraflops of throughput, M1 has the world’s fastest integrated graphics in a personal computer.
Blazing-Fast, On-Device Machine Learning
The M1 chip brings the Apple Neural Engine to the Mac, greatly accelerating machine learning (ML) tasks. Featuring Apple’s most advanced 16-core architecture capable of 11 trillion operations per second, the Neural Engine in M1 enables up to 15x faster machine learning performance. In fact, the entire M1 chip is designed to excel at machine learning, with ML accelerators in the CPU and a powerful GPU, so tasks like video analysis, voice recognition, and image processing will have a level of performance never seen before on the Mac.
More Innovative Technologies Packed into M1
The M1 chip is packed with a number of powerful custom technologies, including:
Apple’s latest image signal processor (ISP) for higher quality video with better noise reduction, greater dynamic range, and improved auto white balance.
The latest Secure Enclave for best-in-class security.
A high-performance storage controller with AES encryption hardware for faster and more secure SSD performance.
Low-power, highly efficient media encode and decode engines for great performance and extended battery life.
An Apple-designed Thunderbolt controller with support for USB 4, transfer speeds up to 40Gbps, and compatibility with more peripherals than ever.
macOS Big Sur Optimized for M1
With Big Sur and M1, Mac users can run a greater range of apps than ever before. All of Apple’s Mac software is now Universal and runs natively on M1 systems. Existing Mac apps that have not been updated to Universal will run seamlessly with Apple’s Rosetta 2 technology. And iPhone and iPad apps can now run directly on the Mac. Additionally, the foundations of Big Sur are optimized to unlock the power of M1, including developer technologies from Metal for graphics to Core ML for machine learning.
Start of a Two-Year Transition for the Mac
M1 powers the new MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, and Mac mini. They join the rest of the Mac product line to form the strongest Mac lineup ever. This is the beginning of a transition to a new family of chips designed specifically for the Mac. The transition to Apple silicon will take about two years to complete, and these three systems are an amazing first step.